Basic Gear for a Motorcycle Beginner - Part 1
By Walter F. Kern
Part 1: Legal, Clothing & Survival
Beginning riders often have no clue as to what else they need to buy after they have purchased their first motorcycle. It turns out that the list of motorcycle gear is quite long.
Part 2 of this article will discuss Tools, Miscellaneous & Accessories.
Here is some essential motorcycle gear that you need to have with you as you ride.
Lots more can be added later as you increase the size of your bike. Of course you still need to find places to store all the extra motorcycle gear. That's why people end up with big touring bikes pulling trailers or rat bikes piled high with junk festooned with multiple interlocking bungee nets.
Please satisfy all legal requirements to become a motorcyclist.
I recommend that you take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course (MSF). Many of these courses provide an automatic endorsement on your existing automobile license upon completion. Otherwise, satisfy the governmental requirements to obtain your license.
Helmets are very controversial among experienced riders. Some don't want the government requiring them to be worn. Take my advice, while you are learning, always wear a helmet. I prefer a full-face helmet and never go anywhere without one. It's also great for keeping the bugs out of your teeth and the rain out of your eyes.
Don't buy just any leather jacket. Motorcycle jackets are not normally sold in regular stores. Check out local motorcycle dealers, the motorcycle magazines, and the Internet. Get a good quality jacket with vents front and back that will allow air to circulate in the summer. Brands like Hein Gericke, Aerostich, Joe Rocket, and Roadgear come to mind. In recent years, many riders are switching to lighter weight textile jackets with padding in strategic areas. These are great and I have one myself but the leather jacket, although heavier and hotter, still protects the best.
It goes without saying that most riders wear jeans. Some may want armored jeans for more protection. Those you see wearing shorts, T-shirts, and sneakers are not to be emulated unless you like sliding your skin across the asphalt at 60 mph.
Your best bet is a pair of heavy leather chaps or leather pants. The chaps are nice because they are easy to put on over your jeans and remove when you get to your destination.
Don't ride without gloves. Select a lightweight pair for summer and a heavy pair for cold weather riding.
I prefer full length leather boots with no laces. Laces can easily cause your foot to be immobilized just as you want to put it down to stop. Be sure that the boots have rubber soles and heels to grip the road when you stop.
Wear long socks that extend higher than the boots and won't ride down.
These come in one-piece and two-piece versions. Both will keep you dry when it rains. If you do any serious riding, you will encounter rain. Be prepared.
Save these till later. They can be expensive.
This fits around your neck to protect it and eliminate drafts.
This is a silk-thin head cover that keeps you warm during winter rides.
Maybe your plan is to call a family member to bring a trailer. Better yet is a national plan such as provided by Honda Riders Club or MTS that will come to you and tow you to the nearest dealer or repair facility.
I carry one in my pocket. Get one and find a place on the bike to carry it.
On hot rides, you'll need this one.
This is highly visible and helps others to see you.
Most riders develop hearing problems especially if they ride with no windshield and a minimal helmet. Ear plugs are cheap, easy to use, and will save your hearing.
If you expect to ride in the winter or at high altitude, you must be prepared for cold temperatures. I always carry an electric vest and electric gloves that are connected to the battery through an adjustable temperature control.
=> Page 2: Tools and more